Mahama Ayariga Slams Gov’t, Defends Gitmo 2 Refugee Status
Former Information Minister, Mahama Ayariga, has slammed the Akufo-Addo government over claims that it did not have full details on the status of the two Gitmo detainees in Ghana.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has said that the current government was not aware of the decision by the erstwhile NDC government to grant the two detainees refugee status.
There had been pressure on the current government to make a decision on whether to keep the two following the expiration of their deal but Minister stated that the government was almost helpless in this regard because of the refugee status.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson had earlier publicly expressed surprise over Ghana’s deal with his country to grant the former Guantanamo detainees refugee status.
But speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday, the Bawku Central MP said government’s claims only show incompetence on the part of the Akufo-Addo government.
“If they were concerned about Guantanamo Bay and from their records they don’t have any particular information and they needed it, the former National Security director is still alive, they could have called him. The former Interior Minister is still alive they could have called him, the same for the former Immigration Service director. So this story about we were not briefed, we were not told rather shows incompetence. It does not show that the NDC outgoing government was hiding anything from you,” he said.
He argued that the three sector agencies namely; the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and National Security had supervisory role over the former detainees “so if you [government] want to have a full picture, you would have gone to these three agencies to find out, and if you didn’t find anything on record, you would have [also] invited those who were occupying these offices for more details.”
An earlier agreement suggested that the US government was to fend for the two detainees for two years in Ghana after which they become the responsibility of the Ghana government.
The former government agreed to this pact.
Ambassador Jackson had said the US government no longer has any responsibilities towards the former Guantanamo Bay detainees after January 6, 2018.
But Mahama Ayariga on the Citi Breakfast Show said there was nothing wrong with the agreement.
“I believe strongly that we did the right thing and this government is still doing the right thing. We may have issues with the negotiations with the US government that maybe we should have put some more burdens on them as a consequence of the violation of the rights of those people, but for us, what was paramount was the rights and the liberties of those individuals. If it becomes necessary for our country to open its doors to people in distress in another part of the world we will do it again,” he added.
The move to host the two in the country was criticized by many observers including the then-in-opposition New Patriotic Party, who described the two as a security threat despite assurances to the contrary by the US.
Two citizens; Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye, further sued the former Attorney General and the Minister of Interior contending that the two were being hosted illegally.
The two were justified by the Supreme Court, which declared as unconstitutional the agreement between the Mahama government and the United States.
The apex court ordered the government to send the agreement to Parliament for ratification or have the two detainees sent back to the US.
According to the judgment, the government needed the approval of Parliament before entering into any international agreement, just as in the case of the two detainees.
When the matter came up for discussion in Parliament, the House was informed that the agreement was reached under a note verbale and Memorandum of Understanding.
A note verbale is a piece of diplomatic correspondence prepared in the third person and unsigned. Parliament subsequently ratified the agreement for the two for detainees to be in the country.
Return GITMO 2 now – Antwi Danso to gov’t
An International relations analyst, Dr. Vladimir Antwi Danso, wants government to take immediate steps to return the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees to where ever they came from.
“They were given two years to stay in Ghana, and the two years have elapsed, what next. And for me they have to leave the country. They must be made to leave by the tenets of the agreement. And agreement tells how its termination can be. So I don’t see why this thing cannot be done, because if they are not made to leave, the security implications are dire,” he told Umaru Sanda.